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Scott Dixon, Alex Tagliani lead final practice for Indianapolis 500

May 27, 2011 |  9:55 am

Photo: Drivers pose next to their cars after qualifying on the front row for the Indianapolis 500. Credit: Jamie Squire / Getty Images. Scott Dixon and pole-sitter Alex Tagliani topped the speed charts Friday in the final practice for Sunday's Indianapolis 500.

Dixon, who won the iconic race in 2008, turned the fastest lap of 225.474 mph at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway on "Carb Day," a throwback term to the days when the cars' engines still had carburetors and mechanics made final adjustments.

Tagliani was second at 224.739 mph and Dario Franchitti, the defending Indy 500 winner and Dixon's teammate at Target Chip Ganassi Racing, was third at 224.658 mph.

"I was quite happy with the balance of the car," said Tagliani, a Canadian who drives for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in the Izod IndyCar Series. "I was trying to find myself some traffic because I wanted to see what the car was capable of doing in turbulence.

"It’s been a pleasure for me to drive a very competitive car, hopefully it will continue," he said.

Helio Castroneves, a three-time Indy 500 winner who drives for Team Penske, was ninth fastest in practice at 223.861 mph. Danica Patrick was 20th, at 222.829 mph, among the 33 cars in the field.

Practice speeds aren't always indicative of how the cars will fare in Sunday's race, because teams often use practice to experiment with different car setups and to otherwise make adjustments.

In addition, Friday's practice was held on a cool, overcast day with temperatures in the mid-50s. But conditions are forecast to warm up quickly this weekend, with race-day temperatures expected to reach the high 80s, which could change how various cars perform.

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--Jim Peltz in Indianapolis

Photo: Drivers pose next to their cars after qualifying on the front row for the Indianapolis 500. Credit: Jamie Squire / Getty Images.

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